Rating: 5 stars out of 5
From the day of his birth, Damu has always been an outcast. The son of the chief and brother to the great warrior leader, Damu is reminded constantly that he’s not good enough to be considered a man in the eyes of his people. Ordered to take responsibility for Alé, Damu shares with him the ways of the Maasai, just as Alé shares with Damu the world outside the acacia thorn fence. But it’s more than just a cultural exchange. It’s about trust and acceptance, finding themselves, and a true sense of purpose.
Under the African sky on the plains of the Serengeti, Heath finds more than just a reason to live. He finds a man like no other, and a reason to love.
I have high expectations of a N. R. Walker story but Blood & Milk just blew them away easily with her story of a broken man finding himself among the Masai people in the Serengeti. Heath Crowley is a man whose life has been shattered by a hate crime. Cornered by an angry group of men, Heath and his partner are attacked with horrific results, his long term partner is killer and Heath is left an empty, wounded bitter man.
A moving story all on its own but N.R. Walter gives Heath Crowley another dimension, the ability to dream, to see bits of the future. Its both a gift and a curse as Heath sees it. And we see it too…pulled into Heath’s nightmares of the night they were attacked and the visions that give him another path forward.
That vision leads an empty Heath to book a one-way ticket to Tanzania, the Serengeti and the Maasai tribe that includes Damu, another in search of his own sort of healing. I’ll stop here and say that the amount of research Walker must have done is considerable and it shows down to the smallest of details in the everyday life and as well as Maasai culture that this story is seeped in. Heath is aware of his own cultural judgments and tries to see beyond them when possible when living as one of the Maasai. This encompasses many levels of stature which I’m not about to get into here as it makes up a large part of this story. But its so beautifully done. I sunk myself into the life of the tribe, the children, the interpersonal relationships (good and bad), and forgot that time was passing.
Blood and Milk is told from Heath’s pov which was a wise choice. I don’t know how much stretching you can do here. But Damu and the Maasai tribe is vividly represented. I could see them dancing in celebration, hear them singing, and yes it sent me to find those same dancing myself so I could listen to it and let it mesmerize me as well as it did Heath.
Walker is also well aware of the consequences of being gay in Africa and this story works with that horrific reality too. What an astounding story.
What can I say? Blood & Milk by N. R. Walker is mindbogglying wonderful. Its beautifully written. The flows along naturally, like a river flowing to the sea, slowing where it needs to, picking up speed and crashing over rocks at places and emptying into a stunning wide open ocean of endless possibilities. Blood & Milk will be at the top of my Best of 2016 list. One read and I’m sure it will be on yours.
I highly recommend it.
Sales Links: The pre-order link for Blood & Milk on Amazon is HERE.
Note: N.R. Walker is donating part of Blood & Milk royalties to African Human Rights Coalition who are a proactive group on the ground in Africa, actively helping LGBT people. For more about this, see her interview with Santa Aziz on N.R. Walker’s Blog
Expected publication: June 23rd 2016